Welcome to Las Vegas
Las Vegas has plenty to offer, from luxurious spas to quirky museums, fantastic shows to hiking in the beautiful desert: there’s something for everyone. Since 1945, lavishly decorated resort hotels and gambling casinos offering top-name entertainment have entertained tourists and locals alike. The Las Vegas Strip, a 4 mile section of Las Vegas Boulevard South, hosts many of the largest hotel, casino and resort properties in the world.
Caesars Palace, ICASSP 2008’s host hotel, is one of the world’s best-known resort-casinos that celebrate the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome. Within its 85-acre site are 26 diverse restaurants and cafes, the 4.5-acre Garden of the Gods pools and gardens, the world-class Qua Baths & Spa, and the 4,100-seat Coliseum. Enjoy celebrity chef restaurants and The Forum Shops at Caesars, which boasts over 160 merchants and restaurants.
ICASSP would like to recommend
Would you like to explore the beautiful scenery outside of The Strip? Indulge yourself in hiking the Sands of Time: Valley of Fire, Death Valley, and Zion National Park, and see some of the prettiest natural sites in the southwest! You will learn from local university professors in the fields of geology, ecology, and human history and further your knowledge about your surrounding environment. Experience this timeless land as few are able! Offered by Elderhostel, you can find more information and register for this excursion online at http://www.elderhostel.org, and search for program #7608.
Las Vegas is situated in one of the hottest and driest areas in the United States, so drink plenty of fluids and protect yourself with sunscreen. Temperatures in April during the day are generally around 80°F, with a record high of 99°F, and the summer months see very little rainfall. Temperatures at night tend to fall below 60°F at this time of year.
McCarran International Airport
Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport is 10 minutes from Caesars Palace and is one of the busiest airports in the world. Several shuttle-bus services operate from the airport, while taxis are also readily available.
The U.S. monetary system includes denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills. There are also four common denominations of coins: 1¢ (1 cent or a penny), 5¢ (a nickel), 10¢ (a dime), 25¢ (a quarter). Two less-common types of coins are worth 50¢ and $1.
Currency exchange bureaus can be found in many banks throughout the Las Vegas area. Hotels also offer currency exchange services, but the exchange rate is not as good as those offered at banks. It is also wise to check for currency exchange services through American Express (800) 525-7623 or www.americanexpress.com or visit travel.americanexpress.com; additionally, the Thomas Cook Currency Services are available and can be found at www.us.thomascook.com or by calling (800) 287-7362.
Traveler’s checks are widely accepted and used as well as credit cards and ATMs. The most used credit cards include Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club, Discover, and Carte Blanche. Some Las Vegas venders may accept international cards like enRoute, Eurocard, and JCB. ATMs (automated teller machines) are available at virtually every hotel.
In Vegas, 15 to 20 percent of the total bill is a good rule of thumb for tipping. Some additional guidelines follow:
Hotel personnel: Generally tip $1 to $2 for each bag of luggage. If you are using concierge services, a $5 tip is appropriate.
Dealers and slot attendants: A small bet for the dealer is the usual method of tipping at gaming tables. A small tip is also appropriate for keno runners and slot attendants.
Taxi drivers and tour guides: Taxi drivers usually receive $1 to $2 for a direct route, or follow the 15 to 20 percent rule, whichever is greater You should provide $1 to $2 to tour guides for each person at the end of the tour.
Valet parking and housekeeping: You should tip $2 to a parking valet, while $2 a day is a good tip for housekeeping services.
There is a 7.75 percent sales tax on purchases and a 9 percent tax on hotel rooms in Las Vegas. An additional 2 percent is added to the room tax for certain Downtown properties adjacent to and near the Fremont Street Experience.
Las Vegas is a compact city with many attractions available in the central area around the Strip and downtown. Transportation options are numerous and varied, from renting a vintage Cadillac Eldorado or new Corvette, to hopping on a city bus, taking a cab or riding the Las Vegas Monorail, one of the most modern transportation systems in the world.
If you’re flying into Vegas, the most economical way to get to your hotel is probably on an airport shuttle. The shuttles gather just outside the terminal in the same area as the taxis. Shuttle service to the Strip or downtown costs less than $10, and buses run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Check with your hotel to arrange the return trip to McCarran.
The average price for renting an economy car in Vegas is around $25 to $30 per day, but the sky’s the limit if you want to cruise the Strip in something a little more extravagant. Rates will rise on holiday weekends or when there’s a large convention in town. As for driving, the city is laid out in a grid format, and is easy to navigate. Be sure to keep a map handy, though.
Buses and Charters
There are several private companies that operate buses and charters that travel to attractions in and around Las Vegas.
There’s certainly something to be said for seeing Las Vegas in style, and you can do so for as low as $35 an hour. Options and pricing vary widely depending on the vehicle and services you desire.
The good news is that free parking is abundant. Virtually every major hotel offers free valet parking (it’s customary to tip valets $2 when they retrieve your car; this is still a great deal compared to virtually every other major U.S. city.) Parking is not allowed on the Strip itself, and several blocks of Fremont Street form a pedestrian mall, the Fremont Street Experience, and are closed to vehicular traffic. Your best bet to park on the Strip or downtown is in one of the hotel lots or parking garages. Be sure to take note on where you leave your vehicle, or even better, take advantage of valet parking whenever you can.
Public bus transportation in Las Vegas is operated by Citizens Area Transit (CAT). There are numerous bus routes throughout the area; a one-way fare on the Strip costs $2, and slightly less in the rest of the city. Buses on the Strip run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For the latest information and scheduling, call CAT-RIDE at (702) 228-7433, or visit http://www.rtcsouthernnevada.com.
There is also a trolley that runs the length of the Strip. Reasonable fares and day passes are available, and the trolley runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a cab in town. Fares start with $3.30 on the meter, and $2.20 is then added for every additional mile.
The Las Vegas Monorail
The Las Vegas Monorail travels along the east side of The Strip behind the resorts. Runs 7 days a week from 7 a.m. – 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. Friday through Sunday from the Sahara Hotel to the MGM Grand with the following stops in between – Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas Convention Center, Harrah’s/Imperial Palace, the Flamingo/Caesar’s Palace and Bally’s/Paris. See website for individual, multi-day and group ticket prices: www.lvmonorail.com
Vegas on Foot
With all of these transportation options, you will still cover a lot of the city on foot. That said, the length of the Strip can be deceptive… it takes more time than you would think to walk from one end to the other. But parts of the Strip must be experienced on foot: where else in the world can you marvel at dancing fountains (the Bellagio), see an erupting volcano (the Mirage), or watch pirates and sirens entertain on ships nightly? (Treasure Island, or T.I.) Not to mention downtown’s Fremont Street Experience, which is a haven for pedestrians. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and carry a bottle of water, especially during summer months.